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A Guide to Connecting Branch Offices with Their Parent Company

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shutterstock_155060309There are three main ways to connect branch offices with their parent company: via a VPN (Virtual Private Network), via a branch gateway or via a cloud-based hosted service.

Virtual Private Networks

A VPN is the ideal way for a business to connect with a small branch office that has just a few endpoints. VPNs provide secure connections over the Internet, they can transfer data a lot faster than WANs (Wide Area Networks) and they are much cheaper to set up, requiring only one line to the Internet for each office.

Reliability can be an issue with VPNs, so it’s important for a business to use business-grade broadband that offers higher Quality of Service guarantees than consumer-grade broadband. With high speed Internet becoming more readily available (as in the current NBN rollout in Australia), VPN is a cost-effective means of connecting branches in small to medium enterprises.

Branch gateways

A VPN is not suitable for medium sized businesses with branches that have more than a few endpoints, so a branch gateway is required. This provides a WAN (Wide Area Network) interface between branches and their company’s corporate platforms.

If there is a WAN failure at any time, a branch gateway also gives the business the option of using their SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking or traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to maintain communications with its branches during the down time.

Cloud services

The third and most recent branch connection option is the option of a cloud-based hosted service. These services offer most of the benefits of a branch gateway without the need for expensive hardware, which is stored and maintained offsite by the service provider.

Cloud services offer flexibility and scalability, so a business can add or remove services as its branches grow or contract. They also offer numerous features such as 24-hour remote monitoring, anti-spam tools, remote data backup, e-mail archiving, and desktop and workstation management tools.

The type of connection you choose to communicate with your branches will depend largely on the size of your business and the size and number of branches that you operate. For small businesses and startups with two offices, a VPN is normally perfectly adequate, whereas a large enterprise with many branches and employees really needs a serious gateway to handle all the traffic. For those businesses in between, cloud services can often provide everything that they need to communicate with their branches and give them access to corporate data.

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